Lavana Baldasare, BSW, RRT-NPS, AE-C
Asthma Navigator at St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center for the DSRIP Program
AARC member since: 2005
What made you decide to pursue a career in Respiratory Therapy and how long have you been working in the field?
After leaving my first career working on Wall Street, my dad was really sick and on a ventilator & I became friendly with the respiratory therapists who took care of him. I became fascinated with the ventilators and felt I could help make a difference. I was also looking for a different, fulfilling career that would allow me to be closer to my children & be there for them. I was deciding between being a teacher & a respiratory therapist. I chose healthcare and graduated in 1995.
What do you believe is the most rewarding part of being a Respiratory Therapist?
As I have stated, I was deciding between being a Respiratory Therapist and teaching so I am lucky enough to be able to practice both. I have always been drawn to the Education aspect because I could see that the more the patient understood their disease, the better we would be able to work together for them to help themselves. I have also loved working with students, having been a clinical instructor for both the Union County Community College & Bergen Community College Respiratory Therapy Programs.
What is your favorite thing to do as a clinician (i.e. patient care, intubation, blood gases, work with ventilators) and why?
My favorite thing is collaborating with the interdisciplinary team to develop a plan & teaching it to the patient so they can feel in control. It gives me great satisfaction when doing my follow-up that I see that the patient hasn’t had the need to return to the ED and is visiting their physician now because of something they learned from me.
Do you have any words of advice for current or future students interested in becoming a Respiratory Therapist?
I guess I would recommend that they seek out all the different areas our field has to offer so that they might find something they are passionate about and can specialize in. They should continue learning and keep earning credentials which will make them more desirable to employers.
What are the most significant changes you have noticed in the field of respiratory care since you become a licensed practitioner? Do you think the profession is moving in a positive direction?
I think some of the biggest changes are in all those different areas that have now been opened to respiratory therapists. We don’t just give breathing treatments or set-up ventilators. There are more opportunities like the one I was given to develop programs to prevent hospital readmissions through education. Requiring at least a Bachelor’s degree and creating more board exams for us to specialize in will keep moving our profession in a positive direction.
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